Q&A: YELP UPDATES AND GUIDE TO CRUSHING IT WITH SOPHIE LAPKIN
Sophie Lapkin is the Senior Field Marketing Manager for Yelp. We had the honor of speaking with Sophie on episode #3 of the podcast back in March 2018. As you all know, things are changing faster than ever! That’s why we asked Sophie to share new updates, consumer behavior, statistics, common mistakes, and how to make your page stand out. There is a lot of great information here. If you would like to watch our 1 hour 20 minute video on how to setup your Yelp page for success step by step, join and support our Patreon page below.
How long have you worked at Yelp, and what is your role?
Sophie Lapkin: A little over 5 years now. (how long I’ve worked at Yelp)
I started off in Account Management (managed my own book of business with 500+ accounts and was responsible for handling anything and everything post-sale) in June 2014. In April 2017 I joined the Business Outreach team as a Field Marketing Manager.
At the time, this was a brand new position and I was (and continue to be) responsible for the initial conception, creation and execution of cultivating a community of business owners, managers & marketers to connect with and connect them with each other. My overall goal is to provide additional (free) resources and opportunities for businesses in order to help them continue to grow & succeed.
Through hosting various events, speaking and exhibiting at trade shows and conferences, webinars, podcast appearances, writing content for the national Yelp for Business Owners blog and more, I focus on educating businesses on the free tools available them on Yelp and showcasing how to optimize and maximize them, without necessarily having to spend any money.
I am now a Senior Field Marketing Manager (there are now a total of 6 of us covering various 11 markets across the country) and I cover both the Phoenix metro area as well as the Greater Houston area.
Where is Yelp at today and what does the consumer behavior look like for home services? Is Yelp still a top place to find service professionals?
Sophie Lapkin: Yelp is still growing faster than ever with a huge focus on home & local service professionals. Last month alone there were over 39MM searches on site specifically for home & local businesses.
Consumers reference reviews at least 82% of the time when looking for a home service business and Yelp is consistently ranked as the #1 site consumers choose to find local businesses. Yelp has ranked #1 as being the most trusted, most influential and most useful for making a purchase decision.
Before spending, Yelper’s take action: besides reading reviews, 57% view hours, 50% visit your website and 48% view photos. By adding information to your Yelp page, you allow customers to better understand the services you provide as well as why they should choose you over another business that may provide similar services.
User behavior: 95% of people searching for a home service business on Yelp make a purchase after using the platform - 46% purchase within ONE DAY and 83% purchase within one week - they’re also requesting quotes 11.15 MM times per year. 92% share the business that they find on Yelp with friends and 74% of consumers searching online for Home Services are looking for a business they can visit multiple times.
What changes has Yelp made within the last year and why?
Sophie Lapkin: Tons of changes, primarily new product roll-outs & increasing functionality of current products already on the site (such as request a quote response time now appearing in search results). These changes are always at the heart of Yelps mission, connecting consumers with great local businesses, and the entire company is focused on making this happen in the easiest and most user friendly way for both businesses and consumers alike.
Big focus on RAQ (request a quote) feature to continue making the process for connecting consumers with great local businesses easier for both sides each and every day. This feature offers business owners a direct line of communication with potential customers.
Around 50,000 (and growing) new quote requests are sent every day. Through Request a Quote, business owners can influence purchase decisions through factors such as price, response time and customer service experience.
Also introduced custom ads so businesses can customize their ad (or have Yelp optimize it for them) based upon the specific things that matter most to the business (applies to all businesses, not just home service businesses).
Introduced Yelp verified licenses which continues to roll out on a state-by-state level - specific to home and local service businesses.
Introduced Wellness Support Alerts (not for home service businesses).
Can now search by specific business attributes, such as if it’s owned by a female business owner or if a business is good for vegans.
YelpConnect (formerly named Yelp wifi) - for brick & mortar businesses.
No longer have to sign a long-term contract - moving toward complete “self service” model where users can log into biz account and start, stop or change campaign without having to talk to anyone via phone.
Is there anything new and noteworthy coming soon?
Sophie Lapkin: You bet! Yelp verified license is a new product that has been rolling out state by state. Yelp Verified Business License info:
Yelp users will soon start seeing blue shields in Yelp search results and on business profiles in selected categories, which include home and local services, medical, childcare, esthetics and “other high-trust business categories.” These new badges are called “Yelp Verified Licenses” (YVL).
State license, Yelp verified. Users can click on the badges and see relevant licensing information for the business. This is not a proprietary Yelp score or certification; rather it’s a verification that the business is licensed in its particular field in the state(s) in which it operates. It’s also a paid-advertising product. VYL costs $1 per day — presumably $365 per year. It’s not clear if there’s an additional application fee (my assumption is no).
Yelp manually checks whether the license exists and is in good standing after a business applies to receive the verification. YVL is currently available in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas and Washington. Yelp says it will add new states in the future.
Boosts visibility and engagement: Yelp says it has been testing YVL “with thousands of businesses” and seen an increase in consumer engagement of 24 percent, on listings that carry a YVL. That includes increased clicks, calls, quote requests and other actions.
Another benefit, according to Yelp, is that business with few or no reviews benefit from the presence of the badge. According to the company’s promotional materials, “In early experiments, contractors with zero reviews saw growth in engagement on their pages after becoming Yelp Verified and displaying the Verified License badge.”
Why you should care: Yelp has been seeking to diversify its product lineup in ways that offer benefits to both consumers and businesses (and Yelp). Yelp waitlist for restaurants is one example. Request A Quote is another. In the latter case, Yelp says quote requests grew 41 percent year over year in the fourth quarter, “representing 4.4 million service requests” and generating $38 million.
What are some of the most common mistakes Yelp page owners are making and what are the consequences of doing so?
Creating & claiming a page, filling out the information and then never going back in to update the content - need to actively continue to manage page
Not responding to reviews with a public comment (looks like you don’t care about feedback since not addressing it, good or bad)
Not filling out profile completely - not as much exposure, not as many opportunities for conversion
Not adding hours (people search by “open now”!)
Asking for reviews rather than generating them organically by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs
Not keeping page up to date- not a “set it and forget it” - you want your page to reflect what your business looks like today, not 6 months ago or even 3 years ago!
Can you list some of the best practices for crushing it on Yelp right now?
Complete profile (content on page)
Add service area
Add services (if eligible)
Leave a trail of breadcrumbs for customers to remind them to leave reviews organically
Provide great service, have a great product or offering and make it right with customers when you mess up - be a good and ethical business owner!
What’s the best way to stay in the loop with Yelp and any future changes?
Sophie Lapkin: Subscribe to email notifications via biz.yelp.com and sign up for the Emailed newsletter - specifically for businesses on Yelp (see below) - can sign up for email newsletter.
Thank you, Sophie, for answering these big questions. As always we appreciate you and your time!